Latest "Breathing" Posts
Are You Ready to Take Action and Do Something About Your Back Pain?
Back pain can be anywhere along the spine from the tip of your tailbone, all the way up to the base of your skull. Regardless of where it hurts, or what you’ve done to aggravate it – the truth is, that all anybody ever really wants is a quick fix to make the pain go away.
I know personally how life-altering it is to live with chronic back pain. I was born with defects at L5-S1 and that instability has made maintaining my core strength a necessity to keep me healthy. And if you’re low back is out of alignment, nothing stacked on top of that is quite right either so back pain can result anywhere from the bottom to the top.
If it’s not your low back that’s bothering you, it might be your mid-back, or upper back / neck and shoulders. It’s nice if a chiropractic adjustment can get you back in alignment, but then the question remains – how long will your adjustment hold before it hurts again? Pills and shots tend to mask the pain so you feel amazing while you’re medicated, and worse off when it wears off!
There are 2 critical things to pay attention to that can quickly begin alleviating your back pain problems.
- Better Posture
Ideally our spine is designed to move freely in all directions. When the bones are “out of balance” it restricts movement. Muscles get into tight over-holding patterns, and the daily activities we do over and over sometimes only make it worse. Muscles move bones, so getting the right muscle balance to maintain healthy body alignment for better posture really does matter if you’re serious about fixing your back pain problems. We need stability AND mobility.
It’s nice to think, “ If I could just “relax” my back would feel better.” But the truth is, it’s a combination of both work and release that will make the biggest difference to improve your health. Right now that work/release balance for good posture is out of whack, and the only way your body can tell you there’s a problem is with a pain signal.
Improving posture is going to be a long-term project… There is lots to become aware of, bad habits to replace with better habits, and never-ending opportunities to incorporate posture-improving exercises into your weekly workout program. If you’re interested in getting started paying attention to your current posture habits click here to take this Posture Quiz.
Now let’s talk about breathing: Keep reading and take in a few deep breaths. Notice where the air is going inside your body.
- Does your low belly stick out when you inhale?
- Does most of your air rise up into the front of your chest?
(Both of these not-so-hot breathing habits are contributing factors to low back pain.)
- Are you able to take a full, deep breath, or are you a shallow breather?
If your back really hurts you might be compensating by not breathing deeply enough to avoid more pain (when in fact this choice is only making the lock down effect worse, and creating more tension.)
- Do you breathe evenly into BOTH lungs? Or tend to fill one side more than the other?
(Not breathing evenly, back muscles are not working/stretching evenly.)
- When you inhale do you lift your shoulders up around your ears, or is the ribcage lifting and the shoulders are just riding along on the lift of the cage?
(If you’re actively hiking your shoulders up, you’re jamming your head/neck into your body compressing the cervical spine.)
Since so many people these days have forward head posture your poor neck and shoulder muscles are already on over-drive to keep your head from falling off your body, which is a part of why your shoulders want to hike up to begin with and why you may be dealing with neck pain, mid-back pain or both.
Poor neck! Poor shoulders! Poor back! Have I gotten your attention yet?
Continue Reading ‘Bye-Bye Back Pain By Practicing this Simple Back-Opening Breathing Exercise
Learn to breathe well for better health! It’s great that the act of breathing is regulated by our autonomic nervous system. This means that whether we’re paying attention to breathing or not, we continue to inhale and exhale to stay alive. Our breath brings oxygen to our cells and feeds our brain. Inhaling lengthens the natural curves of our spine, to help decompress the body, open the joints, and helps free the body for better movement. Most people breathe to survive. But to really thrive, it takes conscious effort to reinforce healthy breathing habits. When you learn to breath well, you will have unlocked a secret key to better health.
Breathing, it’s one of the most important things I teach new Pilates students. And while it’s a good thing that we don’t have to think about every breath we take to stay alive… Improving HOW we breathe can make a huge difference for health improvement. We cannot function in top form physically, or mentally, if we don’t have enough oxygen filling our lungs and nourishing our bodies. Learn and practice Pilates-style, posterior-lateral breathing techniques, your posture will improve, your health will improve, and your life depends on it. Take a deep breath now, and check out how you can Practice Better Breathing Habits.
Most of the time when we breathe the air goes in, the air comes out, and we’re not even conscious of how much of our lungs we are using or even which lung we tend to use more.
If you have scoliosis, asthma or other physical/health challenges that have contributed to limited lung and rib movement, or a muscle imbalance through the upper back, these conditions can create tension, stress and changes in your posture. Becoming more conscious of your lungs and practicing one lung breathing can be a great exercise for you to improve posture and reduce stress, tension or pain.
But even if you DON’T have any health challenges, there’s a really great chance that you have one lung that is stronger, or more dominant than the other, and you might not even realize it! While it might not be a big deal now… Over time, you may accumulate new aches and pains because other muscles in your torso (core, back and shoulders) respond to the breathing imbalance creating a domino effect that can leave you wondering why you now hurt even though you never had an “injury.”
Our posture and muscle habits for balanced body development will only get better if we take action and train the body. Good breathing habits both stretch AND strengthen our system for better posture and better health.
Here are 3 Easy One Lung Breathing Exercises You Can Practice to Strengthen Your Lungs as You Improve Balance, Posture and Health
Continue Reading ‘One Lung Breathing: Creating Balance for Better Breathing and Posture Habits to Look Good and Feel Great!
Learn How To Breathe Deeply & Easily for Better Posture and Better Health
There are many different strategies for better breathing. Good breathing habits can significantly reduce neck and back pain and improve body alignment and posture.
Percussive breathing is one of my favorite breathing techniques to expand the lungs, mobilize the ribs, and train healthy breathing habits.
In recent articles, I’ve shared tips and techniques to improve your Pilates-style healthy breathing habits, if you’ve been practicing good back-rib breathing for the last few weeks, hopefully you are starting to notice a positive change in your habits.
How often during the day do you think about your breath and tweak your technique?
The more often you practice better breathing habits the easier it is to re-train your body for better health. Lasting changes will take time and practice, but pretty soon, it will start to come more naturally and you will find that you don’t have to consciously think so much about breathing to breathe better. Stick with it to maximize your benefits and improve your health!
Today, I want to share a valuable breathing technique to strengthen your diaphragm and increase your lung capacity for deeper breathing to move more air in and out of your system.
Percussive breathing techniques can increase the expansion of the ribcage and the amount of air exchanged through the lungs. The deeper you breathe, the more oxygen you bring into your system. The more the ribs separate on your inhalation, the more your upper back lengthens which naturally decompresses the spine and improves posture!
Continue Reading ‘Using Percussive Breathing Techniques To Reduce Neck and Back Pain
Tips to Incorporate Pilates-Style Back Rib Breathing to Movement and Exercise
In the last breathing article I shared with you two breathing exercises to help start retraining healthy breathing habits to feel your breath go into the back of your ribcage to lengthen the spine and improve posture.
Hopefully, you’ve been practicing and it’s getting easier to feel your ribs moving as you inhale and exhale! Today we are going to progress this concept and focus on better breathing habits when you move.
The simple Seated Hinge & Roll Up exercise is a great way to practice your Pilates-style, posterio-lateral, back-rib breathing technique while your body is moving through space.
The Seated Hinge & Roll Up Exercise
Pilates-Style Posterio-Lateral Breathing Exercises to Retrain Healthy Movement Habits for Better Whole-Body Health
In the previous breathing article we discussed how to determine if you were breathing into your chest, belly or back. I suggested that if you’re natural breathing habit isn’t posterio-lateral Pilates-style back breathing, that you might want to consider learning how to access your back to breathe better and improve posture. Breathing into your back gives you access to a strong supported middle and can reduce pain in your neck and shoulders. Breathing properly is a valuable tool and one of the basic foundations for healthy movement habits, and improved overall health and wellness.
Let’s Review the Benefits of Posterio-Lateral Pilates-Style Back Breathing:
Inhaling expands the lungs, separates the ribs, helping to lengthen and increase the natural curves of the spine.
Tips & Techniques to Discover How Better Breathing Habits Can Help You Improve Posture, and Reduce Pain for a Healthy & Active Life
Breathing is the first and last thing we do in life. And it is a good thing that we don’t have to think about taking each breath to stay alive. However, a little practice for more efficient breathing habits can contribute greatly to maintaining good health, developing healthy movement habits, improving posture, and even reducing pain.
There are MANY different techniques to explore for better breathing habits. Each has its benefits for better health. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips and techniques for breathing that I have found to be most helpful for better posture, support, and to help with the development of healthy movement habits for optimal whole-body health.
Paying attention to your current breathing habits, where you put the air to inhale, how deep your breaths are, how you breathe when you move and exercise, and potentially modifying or improving your breathing habits can help you achieve better overall health.
Each week I’ll post a new article with a new breathing technique and breathing exercise that you can play with and practice to improve your awareness and options for good breathing habits. With a little time and practice, you can be confident that your breathing habits are helping support your healthy body and active life.
You might discover that you breathe differently in different positions. (Standing might be different than seated, lying on your back, vs. belly, vs. side lying, kneeling, right-side up vs. upside down….) It’s not a big deal right now to know what you do in all of these positions, but in time you’ll want to notice how your breathing habits change depending on what you’re doing.
Continue Reading ‘Better Breathing Habits to Improve Posture and Reduce Pain
“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.”
~ Joseph H. Pilates.
We cannot live without breathing, our life depends on it!
Breath oxygenates the blood, improves posture, enhances muscle control, and provides compression/ decompression for a healthy spine.
Practice breathing to fill the lungs from the bottom to the top – lengthening the spine, lifting the ribcage up off the hips, filling the lungs to capacity, and exhaling fully.
Good breathing habits will help you think better, stand taller, and feel better!
Are your current breathing habits helping you stay healthy, or potentially causing back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain? Is your current breath pattern helping improve your posture with every breath you take?
Breathing is something we take for granted. It happens automatically to keep us alive. Inhaling is the first thing we do when we’re born, and exhaling is the last things we do when we die. Every minute, of every day for our entire life, our heart beats to pump life nourishing blood through our system, and our lungs and diaphragm work to provide oxygen to our blood & cells.
It’s nice to know that we don’t have to think really hard to keep breathing and stay alive, but better breathing habits definitely have added benefits to improve our health.